“What a character!”; “He is a real character.”; “She has strong character.” We hear and use the word character in different contexts and with a different meaning. What should character strengths mean then and how can these strengths be with you?
The word character according to most of the dictionaries means a group of characteristics, which is distinctive to a person. These characteristics could be positive or negative, could be inborn or acquired or a little of both.
To find out how these characteristics can become our strengths, in the early 2000s a group of 55 enthusiastic scientists managed to carry out an enormous 3-year research on those character traits that are universally accepted as positive and helpful for the wellbeing of the person and the society. They came up with 24 Character Strengths (like Hope, Bravery, Kindness), combined in 6 broader categories called Virtues (Wisdom, Courage, Humanity, Justice, Temperance, Transcendence). This was the team of VIA Institute of Character (https://www.viacharacter.org/).
How can these character strengths be both universal and unique in order to create a person’s character? The answer is that we all have these character strengths but some of them we use more and with ease and others we don’t use much. Thus a unique combination for every person is created both based on hereditary elements and on consciously or unconsciously learned behavior. For example, it may come to one person naturally to be honest (sometimes even too honest), while for others it may be difficult to speak up openly about controversial matters, because they have been taught in their family to avoid conflicts. And yes, sometimes even a strength can be overused and bring more negative than positive effect to the person and the people around them.
The good news is that we can actually learn how to use more the strengths that do not come so naturally to us. We can also learn how to balance and not overuse our strongly represented traits. And in the end we can learn how to thrive in good times and cope with bad times, by juggling with all 24 Character Strengths. That is what we mean by “May the Strengths Be with You!”
Happiness Accelerator is starting a programme devoted to the 24 Character Strengths as developed by the VIA Institute of Character. Together with Happiness Accelerator you can devote each of the next 24 months to enhancing one of your character strengths. You will get daily activities, strengths boosters and inspirational quotes. On weekly basis we will provide additional info and some surprises.
You can start by taking the VIA Survey (https://www.viacharacter.org/survey/account/register), which is completely free and has already been taken by 15 million people around the globe. It will give you a snapshot of your current “positive character” - which strengths you use more and which you can still boost.
Here you can find a short classification of the Character Strengths as per VIA:
Join us in the Happiness Accelerator Character Quest and May the Strengths Be with You!
You can download Happiness Accelerator app here